April 8, 2024 - 5:10pm

→ Does University Challenge have a diversity quota?

One might be forgiven for thinking that the only criteria for entering a team on University Challenge is high-level general knowledge. Instead, John Maier, a contestant in this year’s competition, has suggested that a team’s diversity is a key factor in the selection process. In a piece for the Times today, Maier wrote that “diversity was important” and “the programme aimed to ‘showcase’ the entire UK’s student population” in terms of race, gender identity and sexuality, among other factors.

Is there an ominous, hidden test peering at a team’s diversity credentials? UnHerd’s resident egghead asked the BBC press office if it could confirm whether there was a part of the selection process which assessed a team’s diversity. The response came back that “for over 60 years University Challenge has set out to reflect the UK’s student population and continues to do so. The latest series has continued that important tradition.” That settles that, then.

→ Brics economies assert dominance

Are we approaching endgame for the West? New data from World Economics (mistakenly reported in some corners as the World Bank), shows that developing countries are powering ahead across a range of metrics. Most notably, Germany has slipped behind Indonesia and Russia in terms of GDP by purchasing power parity (PPP). Now, Russia looks set to leapfrog Japan to become the world’s fourth-largest economy in 2024.

Though the United States is second on the list, the rest is dominated by non-Western countries, including China, India, Brazil and Turkey. Barring South Africa, the Brics nations all appear in the top eight. Maybe all those wars aren’t working out too well…

→ Labour’s six major factions

Labour has always been a big-tent party. But ever since its inception, it has been riven by factionalism and endless militant struggles. Now, new research paints a clearer picture of exactly who these competing groups are. A research paper published by David Jeffery et al. shows that there are six separate groupings, all of which use markedly different language on social media and during parliamentary debates.

The researchers outlined six factions: the Left, Tribune Soft Left, Labour Friends of Palestine, Middle East Soft Left, Unaligned Centrists and the Right. The research found that there are stark divisions particularly between “the Left” and “the Right”, including that they are significantly less likely to retweet one another. Members of “the Left” are also much more likely to tweet about union affairs and social causes while “the Right” is more likely to share posts about the NHS and the economy. Good luck defining Starmer’s beliefs